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National League Central

Okay Top Fans Rivalry readers, this division might end up being the weakest division in baseball this season. If you have listened to the Predictions Episode of the podcast, you will hear differing opinions, but at the end of the day it will probably come down to a two team race.

Let’s get started with the “ever so young” St. Louis Cardinals. They currently have three future Hall of Fame players on their team who have already announced that this is their swan song. Lets start on the bump with the 40 year young Adam Wainwright who has a career win mark of 184 and could conclude his career with 200 wins. Then we move to his battery mate, 39 year old Yadier Molina. Molina has redefined the role of the catcher, not always from an offensive perspective, although he has great numbers there, but from a defensive perspective. Finally “Tio” Albert Pujols, who at the ripe young age of 42, enters his 22nd Big League campaign in an effort of obtaining the prize of one more ring. Let us not forget that Tio Albert has 679 career home runs, so with good health and a little bit of luck, he could cross 700.

Let’s go north to Milwaukee where the brew crew looks dominant on the bump. The strength of this team will most definitely be on the defensive side but could still potentially score a lot of runs. Lets not forget they added Andrew McCutchen, still have Lorenzo Cain, Hunter Renfroe, and Christian Yelich. Going back to my infamous tag line used by millions prior to me, “Offense sells tickets but defense wins games.”

So let us compare the two clubs. The Cardinals, from an offensive stand point, have Tio Albert, Molina, Arenado, and Goldschmidt. The questions become about their weaknesses and it appears the it falls with their pitching. To win your division and make it into October, your starting pitching needs to win between 50-60 games. Without it, too many arms get used and too many injuries occur in what classifies as a very long season. The Brewers on the other hand, as mentioned above, can pitch. The question for them becomes can their offense stay healthy? A baseball purist would tell you that if you score 4 runs a game, you should win that game. Unfortunately, there are so many moving parts in what we will call “modern” baseball.

As painful as this is, for this Dodgers fan to say this, I believe that the Red Birds will squeak out their division, but the Brewers will win a wild card spot. As a side note, someone will say that the northside of Chicago improved this year and will make the playoffs, but I don’t see that happening. This is a two pony race and for some unknown reason to me, only making sense to the baseball gods, the Cardinals seem to do something special almost every season to get into October. With three players retiring this season, they are going to have that emotional drive to push them across the finish line.

Bill Perkins, Top Fan Rivalry

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